The Cleveland Browns will not lose a draft pick for violating the NFL's electronic device policy, but general manager Ray Farmer will be suspended four games and the team will receive a fine, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Farmer's suspension will begin just prior to the start of the regular season and will end after Week 4.
Farmer admitted to and apologized for sending illegal text messages during games, which is prohibited by league rules. While the exact content and recipients of the texts haven't been revealed, reports from ESPN and the Cleveland Plain Dealer have indicated that Farmer texted coaches on the sideline to relay in-game strategy.
On Monday, both Farmer and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam released statements to say that they accepted the NFL's ruling. "I made a mistake and apologize to Jimmy Haslam, Mike Pettine, our entire organization and our fans for the ramifications," Farmer said. "Learning is a big part of who I am and I will certainly be better from this situation."
SB Nation presents: Cleveland's needs in the draft
In addition to Farmer's suspension, which will not affect his availability in the offseason or the 2015 NFL Draft, the Browns were also fined $250,000. On Monday, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent released a statement detailing the sanctions and said that Farmer acted independently:
There was no evidence in the NFL's review that Browns ownership or any other team executives had knowledge of the prohibited conduct. Once the violation was discovered, Browns management implemented new processes to ensure future compliance.
The NFL disallows the use of any electronic device used for communicating, such as computers and cell phones, on the sideline beginning 90 minutes before kickoff. Team personnel can communicate through electronics, but only to relay player injury information and are specifically banned from sharing game strategy.
At the NFL's annual meeting, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he takes any rules violation "seriously" and that the "integrity of the game" is affected when they're broken.
Farmer, 40, served as the director of pro personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs for seven seasons before coming to the Browns in 2013. After one season as the assistant general manager, Farmer took over as general manager in 2014.
The Browns are not the only team that will be punished for breaking league rules. The Atlanta Falcons will also be fined and on top of that, they are expected to lose a draft pick for piping in artificial noise during games. Falcons president Rich McKay will also reportedly be suspended from the league's competition committee.